Bacon wrapped smoked meatloaf studded with cubes of cheddar is the dinner entree you've been missing your entire life. You only need a handful of ingredients for the best smoked meatloaf recipe you have ever tasted.
Bacon-covered anything gets my attention. I am sure this will get your attention as well. Smoked Meatloaf covered in bacon. It is basically your bacon cheddar burger minus the bun. You’re welcome!
I have never really been a meatloaf fan. My mom used to make a classic meatloaf recipe in a loaf pan in the oven. I remember it being dry (Sorry, Mom!). It isn’t a good sign when you feel a better use of the ground meat would have been Hamburger Helper.
Early in our marriage, my wife made an incredible yummy meatloaf. She has since turned it into a burger as well, but I remember it being the best meatloaf ever. Click here for that recipe. Since then I have been more open to the idea of meatloaf and I think we have found a real winner here with this delicious smoked meatloaf recipe.
But what makes a good meatloaf? It has to have well seasoned and cooked meat. Give it pops of flavor. I used cubes of cheddar. Cover it in bacon so that the fat slowly bastes it as it cooks. Cook it on the smoker so that you get all that smoke flavor and can better monitor the meatloaf’s internal temperature to keep from overcooking.
You can use whatever ground meat you love. I made these 100% grass-fed beef. If you wanted to mix some ground pork in, you could do that as well. The ingredients are simple, ground beef, cubed cheddar, bacon slices, and salt and pepper for seasoning.
Ground Beef - We like ground beef in this recipe but you can use ground sirloin, ground chuck, ground turkey, or even ground chicken if you prefer. Combining beef with venison or ground Italian sausage is another good choice.
Thick Cut Bacon - Bacon is the star of the show when you wrap a whole meatloaf in it. Use good quality bacon so it really stands out in flavor.
Cheddar Cheese - Cut the cheese into cubes so there are pockets of cheese when you slice the loaf.
Dried Minced Onion - This is a time saver but you can use fresh chopped onion if you prefer.
Garlic Powder - Gives the meat a nice flavor. We really like using roasted garlic powder instead of the regular garlic powder.
Kosher Salt - A good rule of thumb is it use one teaspoon per every pound of meat. We use a little less in this since the bacon and cheese are naturally salty.
Wood Chips or Pellets - Not really an ingredient but definitely a necessary part of the recipe. We use a combination of cherry wood, apple, and hickory. Mesquite is another good choice.
How to Make Smoked Meatloaf
When I was originally putting this together, I was going to make beef patties, put them on the grill and cover them with cheddar and bacon. But then I thought, let me do this slowly on the smoker. And honestly, if one of the kids didn’t want meatloaf, they could take a thick slice and put it on their bun and enjoy it as a burger!
First Step: Put your ground beef into a large mixing bowl and season well. Work the beef with your hands to make sure the seasoning gets thoroughly incorporated into the meat.
Second Step: Add the cubes of cheddar. I made medium-sized cubes with the cheddar, I wanted them to be big enough that they would still be a bite of cheddar even if it really melted. When I incorporated the cheddar cubes in the loaf, I made sure to push them into the meat. I didn’t want the cheese on the outside of the loaf in case they just completely melted away.
Third Step: Remove the meat from the large bowl and shape the meat mixture into a loaf shape on a baking sheet. Cover with bacon. You can do a fancy bacon weave or just lay each slice on top of the meatloaf.
Step Four: Once the loaf is covered with bacon, place it on the wire rack of the preheated smoker. You will want to smoke this meatloaf between 250°F and 275°F on your smoker or pellet grill.
If you have a meat probe for your thermometer, stick it in the loaf now. We are going to cook this to an internal temperature of about 150F. Cook time will be about 2 hours for the meatloaf. Let it rest for 15 minutes and then serve with barbecue sauce.
Expert Tip: For this type of recipe checking the internal temp with a meat thermometer is a must.
Variations & Flavors
Jalapeno Popper - Mix in some sliced jalapenos and then serve with a simple cream cheese sauce by mixing softened cream cheese with a little butter and cream.
Hawaiian - Swap out the cheddar for some of our Smoked Pineapple. It sounds a little strange but it is amazingly delicious!
Mushroom Swiss - Mix in lightly sauteed or smoked mushrooms and onions and cubes of swiss cheese in place of the cheddar cheese inside the bacon wrapped smoked meatloaf.
Barbecue - Glaze the meatloaf with some hickory brown sugar bbq sauce or hot honey bbq sauce right before it comes off the pellet smoker. We love bbq glaze on meatloaf. Or you can mix your favorite bbq rub into the ground beef.
Classic - Make a meatloaf like your mom with some ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and breadcrumbs (but switch those Italian breadcrumbs for panko breadcrumbs).
Spices & Herbs - You can definitely switch up the spices and herbs. Add some parsley for a bit of color or add smoked paprika for extra smoky flavor.
Do I need Breadcrumbs?
You can absolutely make meatloaf without any bread crumbs or even eggs. The ground meat will hold together as it cooks the same way a burger does.
How to Serve Smoked Meatloaf
You can easily just slice this bacon wrapped smoked meatloaf and serve it. It has a ton of flavor and the textures are fantastic. A crusty bacon exterior with a juicy and cheesy interior. If you want to add a little more flavor, you can serve this with your favorite bbq sauce.
As I mentioned earlier, you can even slice it and treat it as a burger. Serve it on a bun with your favorite burger toppings as well. This meatloaf is very versatile. Try this keto turkey meatloaf and our Traeger meatloaf next.
How do I Store Leftover Meatloaf?
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. They will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave, the oven, or put back on the grill.
What Sides go with Meatloaf?
We normally serve this with a green vegetable like broccoli or green beans plus a starch like mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, or french fries.
Bacon Wrapped Smoked Meatloaf
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 4 oz cheddar cheese cubed
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon dried minced onion
- 9 oz bacon slices approximately 6-12 slices
- Combine beef, cheddar, salt, garlic, and onion into a large mixing bowl and mix it together until seasoning and cheese are well distributed through the beef.
- Form the beef into a football-shaped loaf and place it on a cooking tray or cutting board.
- Take the bacon one slice at a time and wrap the beef being sure to slightly overlap each slice of bacon until the meatloaf is completely covered.
- Place in preheated smoker and smoke between 250°F and 275°F for approximately 2 hours until the internal temperature reaches 150°F.
- Once done smoking. Remove from grill, let it rest for 15 minutes. Then slice and serve.
Originally Published August 5, 2021. Revised and Republished October 23, 2023.